Parental Advice for Raising Kids Who Do Not Use Drugs

Parent with healthy daughter

Parents worry about their kids constantly. It’s just a part of being a parent. No matter their kids’ age, parents seem to worry, showing concern for their kids from birth into childhood, to adolescence, to their teen years, and even through adulthood. And in the 21st-century, parents worry for their sons and daughters in relation to substance abuse perhaps most of all.

That’s pretty understandable.

Drug and alcohol addiction is one of the most dangerous and life-risking activities that a person can take part in. Drug use is a highly toxic activity, and alcohol misuse brings with it a bevy of adverse health complications too. And not only is drug and alcohol use highly toxic for one’s body, but such activities are also poisons to one’s mind too. With all it’s possible consequences, addiction is rarely talked about in families who have never experienced it. It’s unfortunate. early on education about the harmful effects of drugs and alcohol has the greatest effect in avoiding addiction altogether.

With twenty-four million Americans addicted to drugs and alcohol, three times the number of addicts we had at the turn of the century, parents are well within their rights to worry for their kids, no matter the age of their kids.

When Young Adults Use Hard Drugs and IV Drugs

Parents often worry about their sons and daughters shooting up heroin, synthetic opioids, or other IV drugs. And they are right to be worried. An IV drug is not usually the drug a young person will opt to reach for first, but thanks to the opioid epidemic, such drug use trends are becoming more common among young adults.

IV drug use is a way to absorb highly potent narcotic substances into one’s body very quickly. IV drug use is usually the final stage of drug use, the stage where one has already spent some time smoking, snorting, breathing, chewing, and consuming drugs. Once an addict moves on to IV drug use, the risk for loss of life becomes more prominent. The risk for all kinds of other adverse phenomena also increases in tandem when an addict moves on to IV drug use.

IV drug use has complications that other forms of drug use do not have. Sexually transmitted infections, poisonous substances lingering in the IV, unknown elements in the drug mix, overdoses, continued use, organ failures, accidents, lack of hygiene, and injuries accrued while high, are all risks that an individual faces when they pick up an IV drug.

Clearly, it becomes very risky when our sons and daughters use IV drugs or any drugs for that matter, so wouldn’t it be better if they just never used drugs, to begin with?

Quick Tips for Raising Children Who Don’t Use Drugs

There is a wealth of drug information on our website for parents and youngsters alike, about drugs and alcohol, how to tell the signs of an addict, how to help addicts, how to avoid becoming an addict, etc. We’ve include source citations for much of this valuable content in the Sources Cited section of this article, but we’ll go over some of the primary tools in the following paragraphs that parents can apply to their child-rearing.

First of all, the key, fundamental strategy for reducing the odds that one’s kids will use drugs and alcohol is to communicate. The power of communication can never be oversold. The sheer ability of parents to set their kids on the right path, just by being in regular touch and frequent conversation with them, now that is truly valuable.

Son showing strange signs - father worrying

You should communicate with your kids, and family, daily, when they come home from school, at dinner and let them know you are always there for them should they want to talk. To keep the line open make sure you are not judgemental or authoritarian but just a loving caring parent who wants to help them is a great way to keep your kids safe from drugs and in general. This type of communication line starts at birth and is nurtured through a lifetime. If the type of communication from the son or daughter should change markedly, start looking for what changed in the child’s life and act accordingly.

With communication, parents can talk to their kids about how harmful drugs are. Parents should educate their kids about drug use and the risks and dangers that go along with it. But they can only do so when their kids really feel like they can engage with their parents in open and honest communication.

Recent research backs this up.

The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence reported:

“Believe it or not, parents are the most powerful influence on their kids when it comes to alcohol and drugs. Recent research has found that 2 out of 3 kids ages 13-17 say that losing their parents’ respect is one of the main reasons they don’t drink alcohol, smoke marijuana, or use other drugs.”

Recent scientific research has found that the longer an individual postpones the onset (first use) of alcohol, tobacco, or other drug use, the less likely the individual is to develop an addiction or other substance use problem later in life. And believe it or not, parents are the most powerful influence on their kids when it comes to alcohol and drugs. Recent research has found that 2 out of 3 kids ages 13–17 say that losing their parents’ respect is one of the main reasons they don’t drink alcohol, smoke marijuana, or use other drugs.

That’s a powerful statistic, but it shows us that what parents do or do not do makes a big difference in whether or not their kids grow up to use drugs or not. With that in mind, another tip would be for parents to set a good example of behavior for their kids and remain a presence in their lives. Parents should do their best to make sure that their kids are spending time with other moral, ethical, upstanding kids, that their kids are involved in positive and healthy activities, and that their kids are not falling in with the “wrong crowd. However, establishing boundaries and trust with your child is also key. Children do not respond to criticism and must be allowed to develop their own opinions and ideas.

Parents also need to make sure that the home life that their kids come back to every day is a pleasant one, a home life that kids will want to come back to. Creating a safe, pleasant, warm and welcoming environment for kids to grow up in is key in raising healthy, ethical, smart, active, and responsible kids.

If Substance Abuse Does Come Knocking, Never Lose Hope

We face a lot of controversy in our efforts to address the nation’s drug problem, primarily because it is a very controversial issue, to begin with. And not only is it controversial, but it is also a very difficult problem to solve. Any time we come head to head with a difficult problem that takes years and years to resolve, there is going to be controversy and argument on how best to solve it.

Drug and alcohol addiction is a crippling affliction, a life-threatening crisis that risks it all. When a person becomes addicted, it can often seem as though there is no hope for them. When a person starts to misuse drugs and alcohol, they often appear to be at their wit’s end. This is a hard time for them. It’s a hard time, and it almost always seems to just get worse with each passing year, often times to the point where addicts feel as though there is just no hope for them whatsoever.


However, there has been no scientific research or authority study that indicates that someone, “can become so addicted to a substance that they can’t get help” or something of that nature. Anyone can make a change for the better in their own lives and in the lives of others. They just have to want it, and they have to have access to the right tools. They have to have assistance from others to help them go out there and get that help.

For more information, take a look at the source citations and research notes listed below. The National Institute on Drug Abuse penned an article on, “The Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide” which serves very well to show both recovering addicts and their families alike what it really takes to get help and to get clean. Other organizations have created similar resources on how parents can prevent addiction from festering in their kids before it even happens. The more information that we can have going into this, the better off we’ll be.

Drug and alcohol addiction was not nearly such a terrible problem just twenty-five years ago. With the right effort, teamwork, commitment, and dedication, we can get our country back on track towards a significant degree of sobriety and drug-free living once again.


Clinical Review by Claire Pinelli, LADC, CCS, ICAADC, MCAP



After working in addiction treatment for several years, Ren now travels the country, studying drug trends and writing about addiction in our society. Ren is focused on using his skill as an author and counselor to promote recovery and effective solutions to the drug crisis. Connect with Ren on LinkedIn.